Now that the holiday season is upon us, it’s time for us to really watch our alcohol intake. Parties and even gifts containing alcohol are common during this time. For those recovering from an alcohol use disorder—or those simply wanting to abstain—navigating the holidays can be tough.
Some may use the holidays as an excuse to over-imbibe, leading to what is known as binge drinking.
What is binge drinking?
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines binge drinking as, “a pattern of drinking alcohol that brings blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 percent – or 0.08 grams of alcohol per deciliter – or higher. For a typical adult, this pattern corresponds to consuming 5 or more drinks (male), or 4 or more drinks (female), in about 2 hours.”
In 2019, it was found that more than a quarter of high school students drank alcohol at the time of the survey, with 1 in 10 reporting binge drinking.
Who binge drinks?
According to the CDC, binge drinking is most common among younger adults aged 18–34 and is more prevalent in men than women.
The risks of binge drinking
While people who binge drink often don’t have an alcohol use disorder, this behavior does come with some serious risks, including, but not limited to:
- Chronic diseases like high blood pressure, heart disease, and liver disease
- Fetal alcohol syndrome
- Unintentional injuries from falls, or motor vehicle crashes
- Alcohol poisoning
- Memory and learning problems
Identifying and controlling binge drinking
Binge drinking is preventable!
The first step is to recognize what triggers binge drinking. Stress? Boredom? Depression? Peer pressure? During a social event, keep track of how much you’re drinking, if you choose to drink, and set a limit. If you’re not sure you can stick with it, have a sober friend around to keep you accountable or stick with your favorite non-alcoholic drink.
If you’re struggling with binge drinking, reach out to a professional counselor who specializes in this issue. They can teach you essential skills like practicing mindfulness and healthy eating while also guiding you on how best manage and control binging. PreventEd has the resources you need to connect you to counseling referral services and community programs.